My family and I will be heading to Alaska this summer for our first cruise on Celebrity's Summit from Seward to Vancouver and we are SO excited. We have two kids joining us ages 7 & 9 and have some trepidation regarding a Juneau excursion of whale watching with Captain Larry Dupler's Orca Enterprises that my wife and I would love to do. From everything we've read this sounds like a wonderful excursion that we would love to take but are not certain our kids will be able to last for 2 1/2 hours. We're concerned things may be a little too cerebral and slow paced. Any other parents out there with young kids who have been brave enough to try this particular excursion? Your experience? Suggestions?
BTW, I can't say enough good things about this website! What a find!
Right before I read your post, I sent an email to Capt. Larry's asking for info. about taking the tour with our two kids, ages 8 & 10. I have the same concerns, but I can't imagine being out there and not seeing the whales! We'll be on the Carnival Spirit on July 2. How about you?
Actually, it may not be for young kids. The USUAL activity you will see will be small views of the "hump", blows and occasional dives. It is NOT normal for most trips to see breaching, spy hopping, bubble net feeding etc. The cruise brochures are greatly enhanced in their advertising brochures. EVERY trip, I have heard people complaint they did see "more of the whale". I have only seen the above behaviors over many many trips (including 2 multiday research trips I now take every year). SO- determine your children's interest, perhaps take out some library books, ckeck your Learning Channel, Discovery Channel etc for whale programs. If need an IMAX there have been whale programs- a great one was on the Baja. See if they are interested or not. It is a costly excursion to have to deal with bored kids. Perhaps consider a sitting service on the ship or allow them to be in a program with strict guidelines???
The Orca Enterprises tour is anything but dull. My nine year old grandson thoroughly enjoyed the trip. Our best independent tour was a three hour Whale Watching Cruise with Orca Enterprises, aka Capt. Larry, while in Juneau. Capt Larry’s boat is custom built and seats a maximum of thirty-two passengers; however, he normally books only twenty-four, leaving extra wiggle room. The “Awesome Orca” is a forty-two foot water-jet propulsion craft with an enclosed lower deck. There is a roomy and comfortable exposed viewing deck on the aft end. The top deck is totally open for SRO viewing. Up-top limit is eight at a time, so we all periodically rotate. The trip through Auke Bay to the viewing area is at high speed, but the waters are calm throughout. The still waters in the bay combine with the smoother jet engines for a far smoother ride than our Sitka experience. We saw a number of whales, one of whom breeched directly in front of our bow. Two humpbacks were deep diving in tandem as a ballet duo, showing their flukes with each dive. Sea Lions and Dall’s Porpoises were abundant. Alas, no seals or orcas appeared today. Orca Enterprises is a truly first class operation. Capt. Larry provides the narration and finds the wildlife. His web site is: http://www.alaskawhalewatching.com/. You need to book this tour about one month in advance. Since I had scheduled Orca Enterprises I stopped by their office on the pier and asked Becky to schedule Coastal Helicopter in conjunction with the boat tour. This permitted Orca to coordinate our boat tour and helicopter trip. The shuttle bus from the boat dropped us off at Coastal’s base. Coastal took us flight seeing over a few glaciers and landed on Norris Glacier. We had a beautiful sunny day, so both the boat trip and glacier landing came off great. Coastal is a much smaller operation than Temsco, but our pilot was skilled and an excellent tour guide.
Let me add a slightly different opinion. First, you can't go wrong with any of the whale watching tours. Viewing these magnificant animals is just awesome. There have been many posts regarding the virtues of Capt. Larry's tours. I suspect that most, if not all are from those who have not had the opportunity to compare him with the cruise line tours. We found the "Awesome Orka" to be extremely crowded with 24 people on board. We had to rotate to get 8 people at a time onto the small viewing deck aft. The water is too choppy to allow anyone to go onto the top deck. The boat ride was extremely rough and quite a few folks got sick. The times for his tours were out of sync with the cruise ship activities, so we had to miss dinner to go with him. The snacks he served were Ritz crackers and som pieces od smoked salmon. The cruise ship tour was on a much larger catamaran and was more stable. We had half as many people on a much larger boat. The snack was extensive and the times coincided with the ships activities. Having taken both, I conclude that while Capt.Larry is good, and his office staff is very nice, the ships tour was far better. Just my opinion.
I too have kids age 5 & 10 and this excursion is the one they think they will like the best. Bring a book, snack, or gameboy if you think they will be bored. My guess they will be on deck with you looking for whales. I am going in 3 weeks and will be glad to filter down what I experienced with my kids.
On our tour with Capt Larry last year, we only had about 12 or so, it was not crowded, and we used the top deck every time we slowed down or idled. Only about five or six of us were interested in going up their and we were able to stay up there as long as we didn't get up to speed. While moving full speed we could still stay on the small back deck. I think the kids would like the purple jet boat and would not get bored, with the eagles and other birds fishing, the whales, harbor seals on the buoy and even bears along the far bank. Allen Marine with a larger boat and more room to roam might be alternative. The game boys or other to do things might be a good idea. The snack on Orca was as someone described, so have your own with you for the 3.5 hours total from start to finish.
I just got off Norwegian Sun on May 18th. This is my first ever cruise and first ever trip to Alaska. The only excursion I did in Juneau is Capt. Larry's whale watching. It turns out to be the most disappointing one. First the boat was too crowded,there are more people than seats, many people had to stand there, then they had the dead battery, some folks left, but there are still too many people. We ended up standing for 3 1/2 hours.
Yes, we saw whales, far away from them. We saw more whales from cruise ship later on. My overall feeling is that it is not really worth of doing this excursion. Maybe I was just not lucky
I agree with whoever........Myself and grandson (10) went whale watching last week in Juneau for 3/12 hrs. and quite frankly it was a waste of money. We did see whales ...but at a distance and as Karen said, they were not breaching and found out from one of the guides that this usually happens in places like Hawaii. Think it would be very unusual to see them,like they are shown on brochures.
On the way back outside of Kethican there were a lot of whales and closer to the ship.The captain will annouce all sightings.....so you have a chance to see them.
Although my g.son enjoyed it......his favorite thing was the lumberjack show in Kethican.
Go figure lol.......it was half the price.
Thought I'd add my two cents.